Winning run is ended by Wakefield

Halifax men’s firsts produced an error-strewn performance and lost their 100 per cent record in Yorkshire Two, losing 5-4 to a solid well drilled Wakefield team.

The game started brightly with both teams trying to play passing hockey on a new water based pitch at Wakefield.

Halifax took the lead after a good move down the right with man of the match Matthew Bairstow sending a lovely pass to Josh Sutcliffe, who flicked the ball home from a tight angle.

Wakefield played the better hockey for the rest of the half although Halifax created the better chances.

Wakefield equalised with a well practiced short corner and took a 2-1 lead shortly after as Halifax gave away possession too cheaply again.

Just before half time they scored a third as Paul Graham missed a flicked shot and only prevented a goal with his leg. Wakefield dispatched the penalty.

The half time message was to pass better, keep play simple and show character. The team responded with an early goal from Matthew Graham for 3-2.

Good work down the right by Bairstow enable Jake Bamforth to ghost in at the far post to tap in the equaliser.

Halifax were in the ascendancy but failed to tack a couple of good chances and were then caught with a sucker punch on the break from very clinical Wakefield strikers.

To rub salt in the wounds, Wakefield countered after more Halifax pressure and a complete mis-hit somehow found its way passed a bemused Metcalfe.

Graham fired into the corner after a good pass from Josh Sutcliffe but Halifax could not equalise and need to regroup against Leeds University on Sunday.

Halifax seconds gained a first league win of the season in spectacular style with a 7-1 success over Doncaster fourths.

Their makeshift team still had a solid look to it and the midfield trio of Simon Arch, David Spencer and Peter Balmforth combined superbly with Arch’s direct running causing the visitors particular problems.

Arch’s probing produced the first goal for youngster Hellowell and he then finished off a sublime move himself. Striker John Horsley claimed the third from the penalty spot for a comfortable and totally unexpected half time lead.

Doncaster were posing a threat, but the assured performance of James Smith in goal and the immaculate pairing of Stephen Fawkes and Graham Rodgers snuffed out the dangermen.

The interplay orchestrated by David Spencer was a pleasure to behold and Hellowell extended the lead.

Fawkes drifted upfield to score a rare goal and finally Horsley produced a typical poacher’s finish, cleverly deflecting the ball from a wayward Willis strike.

The home side only used 11 players and they left the pitch to an ovation from the many home players from other teams, who had stayed to watch.

Halifax third’s unsettled start to the season continued in a 2-1 home defeat by Leeds fifths.

Five changes were made to the team which had drawn at Wakefield. Whilst the squad was bolstered by Fred Owens, Tom Cullen, Lee Chapman and Jason Smith, the loss of defenders Graham Rodgers and Jamie Maddock and midfielder Trevor Love to the seconds left them short in some areas against a Leeds team who had started the season strongly.

Halifax started strongly with Cullen and Collins combining well up front and Smith and Simon Meredith providing strength and vision in midfield.

With the lion’s share of possession, Halifax forced a series of penalty corners but were unable to score.

With captain Nigel Bowers in central defence alongside second team captain Dave Manning, who is returning from injury, an energetic and skilful Leeds attack posed little serious threat and it was against the run of play when they took the lead midway through the half.

Halifax responded well and late in the half they were rewarded when Cullen’s penalty corner attempt was stopped on the line by a Leeds defender. Cullen put away the resultant penalty stroke.

They continued to press for a winner, aided by the ever-improving Matthew Ward down the right and strong contributions from Nick Walton and Aidan Crowe on the opposite flank.

Numerous opportunities came and went and Halifax paid the price as Leeds bagged the winner.